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True Life: I’m A Sub .500 Fan

Originally Posted July 2, 2010:

Cue the entry audio to MTV’s True Life.

Fans come in all different sorts of intoxicating personalities. We all know of the Fair Weather Fan. They join the party after the party has already started. They jump on the band wagon after the wagon has made its 100th winning stop. They can tell you the time they watched their team win the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Series, but not their rosters.

Then there are the Casual Fans. They can tell you the big three on the team, but they can’t name who the starting catcher is. Or who replaced the struggling superstar closer. Or who filled in for the team’s famous broadcaster when he was out for heart surgery.

I think more annoying than casual fans are Homer Fans. These fans, no matter how pathetic their team is playing, still think their team is God’s gift to Earth and there losing season is to blame on this guy. You can’t even confront these fans about their team without receiving a reaction like this.

But let’s face it, the greatest type of fans are the DieHard Fans. No matter what they are doing, they will drop everything for a chance to watch their team play. No matter their team’s performance, they are behind them 110% for the entire season and off-season. They don’t just sit and agree with the GM’s moves, they analyze, criticize, and scrutinize all the moves and makes their voice heard.

I would like to encourage everyone to at least be a diehard fan for one season (of course, please assess the situation… marriage and family should still be top priority, by a small margin). Follow a team, any team, pick a new team, any sport, and follow each and every play as if it were their last.

The greatest moment in a sports fan life is to follow your team to the championship from the beginning when their record was 0-0 and watching them win it all… But, winning isn’t just about bringing home the bling. Sometimes, winning is just about making it to the championship, just barely making it into the playoffs, just finishing above 0.500 for the first time in 12 years. I can honestly say that following a losing team for years as a diehard fan pays the biggest dividends in the end. Some fans have never seen a losing season (the last Yankees losing season: 1992. Yankee fans under 21 years of age definitely can’t remember that). Some have only seen losing seasons. The diehard that sticks through sub 0.500 winning percentages from their team year after year get butterflies in their stomach when their team is even competing for a wild card spot (some fans look at contending for the wild card a losing season). Welcome to my life as a Brewers fan since the late 80’s.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
If you root for the following teams year after year despite finishing in the red, you have earned your badge which gives you access to the greatest circle of fans in the baseball community.

Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns / 1901 Milwaukee Brewers
For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…

Are You A Baseball Fan… Five Must Knows For All Baseball Fans

I’m going to bust out some of my favorite posts from the past. Not because I’m lazy or too busy. Mainly because the information is so interesting that even when I re-read the articles I always come away wondering something different which drives me to research more into it.

So enjoy some posts from the past over the next few days.

Originally posted on Aug 22, 2010:

Between practicing your moonwalk and trying not to get caught on Chatroulette, you may consider yourself an avid baseball fan even though you duck from an incoming foul ball and let it hit the only girl you had a shot with. You may know who won the past five championships, or who owns the home run record, or how the Oakland A’s GM has changed present day baseball (It’s soon to be a movie as well). But here are Five must knows that many baseball fans may not know, but should know.

5. Baseball is just using what Mother Nature gave us:

Pine Tar and Delaware River Rubbing Mud

Delaware Rubbing Mud

Delaware River Rubbing Mud


Have you noticed how many baseballs are used in One Major League game? Numbers vary, but the Pirates report more than nine-dozen per home game. And more than 900,000 Rawlings baseballs a year for all 30 big league clubs. But, have you ever observed the condition of one of those 4,548 foul balls you caught (seriously, check out the “baseball collector”. He may need a girl friend… or a job. Who am I kidding, I’m jealous). That’s right. A “new” baseball isn’t even close to those smooth, slippery, white, shiny Rawlings baseballs given to you by your Little League Umpire. Instead, they are dirty, dingy, gritty baseballs with 0 pitches on them. You may be asking “Seriously, they come out of the box in that condition?” The answer is: No. The MLB has a contract with a family owned company out of New Jersey to purchase aged mud from the Delaware River. This Lena Blackburne mud is then applied by some pour bum / sap the umpire attendant at the baseball stadium to EVERY baseball. The umpire attendant can only pray that the game doesn’t go into extra innings and has to rub another 100 baseballs.

It’s believed that the mud rubbing story begins back in 1920 when Ray Chapman got beaned in the head and became the first MLB player to die from a baseball game related injury. This tragic incident led officials to search for a solution to baseballs slipping from a pitcher’s grasp and heading in a wayward direction. They tried chewing tobacco, shoe polish, crazy glue infield dirt, etc. Pitchers didn’t mind these solutions as they roughed up the cover of the baseball allowing the ball to have more drag resulting in more movement. But officials weren’t pleased with the results. Cue Lena Blackburne, a manager for the Philadelphia Athletics. He decided to cure and age some mud from his favorite fishing hole and rub it onto some baseballs. Before he knew it, every MLB team was requesting his “special” mud. For the entire story, click here. (seriously, why can’t I be making my living selling mud I found on some river bank)

Pine Tar
Some of us may remember seeing the “Pine Tar Incident” on the local news. Well others of us may remember seeing the highlights a years later. Well even others may not even have the slightest idea what the “Pine Tar Incident” was or what Pine Tar even has to do with baseball. With recent advancements in batting gloves (they can even wick moisture away from the hands), pine tar has become almost irrelevant in the new age of baseball. But there are still some players out there that bat “au naturel” (ie. no batting gloves): Jason Kendall, Jorge Posada, Vladimir Guerrero are just a few. Pine Tar used to be extremely prevalent in baseball locker rooms. It was liberally applied to bat handles just above the batter’s grip. The purpose: leaving excess pine tar above the player’s grip allowed him to apply some Pine Tar to his grip to increase his grip during his at-bat. However, a rule prior to the mid-80’s stated that pine tar could not extend past 18 inches from the knob of the bat (Brett’s was 23 inches). After the game, the American League president overturned the call and the game was finished later that year. And after the season, the rule was revoked (there still is rule 1.10(c) but the bat is simply removed from the game for any substance extending past 18 inches from the knob of the bat). There are several speculations on how this rule came to be. Some sources say it was to protect the batter (Pine tar would accumulate on balls hit in play allowing the pitcher more grip and snap to increase ball movement). While other sources attribute the rule to a cheap owner (Calvin Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators) who was sick of paying for replacement baseballs that accumulated the pine tar (how upset would he be now having to buy at least 6 dozen balls a game). No matter the rules, Pine Tar is a tradition in baseball that I hope never dies.

4. Records that won’t be broken

Mark Spitz said “Records are meant to be broken”, but he forgot to mention that there are some records that physically can’t be broken. Every sport has them and most of the records that can’t be broken typically come from the early era of the sport. For example, no one will beat Cy Young’s record of most career wins with 511 wins which was mounted during the 1890’s. Let’s put that record into perspective. No pitcher in the 2009 season won 20 games; and in the current era of baseball, a pitcher would have to win 20 games for 25 seasons and he would fall 11 short of the record. That fact alone is the reason why the coveted pitcher’s award at the end of the season is named “The Cy Young”. Now that doesn’t mean all the unbreakable records came from the 19th century. Most are familiar with the name Nolan Ryan. The “Nolan Express” is in the midst of a bidding war on ebay purchasing the Texas Rangers (and recently won), but Nolan Ryan is known most for his ability to make the ball miss a batter’s bat. His 5714 career strikeouts will never be touched by another pitcher (Mark Reynolds could potential top that as a batter).

Other pitching records that will never be touched:

  • In 1904, Jack Chesbro won 41 games in a single season for the New York Highlanders.
  • Cy Young has 749 complete games while throwing a total of 7356 Innings Pitched. The current active complete games leader… Roy Halladay with 57.
  • Speaking of Innings Pitched, Ed Walsh pitched a staggering 464 innings in 1908. That’s almost twice what the league leader throws in the current era.
  • The 2010 season may be the year of the no-hitters, but Johnny Vander Meer’s 2 consecutive no-hitters is even more impressive than the 2 (should have been 3) perfect games thrown by Braden and Halladay in 2010.
  • As impressive (if not more) than two consecutive no-hitters is having Walter Johnson’s record of 110 career shutouts. This record won’t be broken unless a pitcher always gets to pitch against the TB Rays on their off days (the Rays have almost been no-hit 7 times in 2010)

In my opinion, a pitcher’s dual is an exciting game to witness. But a good ol’ fashioned slug fest between two teams usually means more baseball gets to be watched and fans seem to be more involved. You don’t see any fans sitting in the stands with signs reading “Sub 1.00 ERA” for Josh Johnson or Ubaldo Jimenez. Or signs reading “perfect game” for Armando Galarraga (I believe that’s a no-no in acknowledging you are witnessing a no hitter and jinxing the pitcher, see un-written rules section below). You do see “600” signs every where these days. A-rod finally got his, while Milwaukee should just take down theirs as they jinxed Hoffman. There was a lot of commotion recently on unbreakable hitters records with the 1998 home run chase between Sosa and McGwire chasing Roger Marris’ single season home run record. Then there was the talk about Hank’s unbreakable career home run total which Bonds beat (and A-rod will get shortly). But there are some truly remarkable batting records that will never be broken. Here are a few:

  • Let’s start with one we are all familiar with. Cal Ripken’s 2632 consecutive games played. The current active streak belongs to the fattest vegetarian, Prince Fielder at 294 consecutive games for the BrewCrew.
  • Carl Crawford is the current active leader in career triples with 99 and he’s only 28 yrs old. But even on that pace, he has to play almost 30 seasons to catch Sam Crawford’s career record of 309 triples. Unless they bring back the Polo Grounds, I don’t see this record being broken for a while.
  • George Brett (mentioned earlier for loving pine tar) amounted an amazing 0.390 batting average in 1980. And is the last player to even challenge a 0.400 season batting average. Rogers Hornsby’s record of a 0.424 batting average in the 1924 season is completely safe.
  • Joe Joe Dimaggio is one of the greats. And he has solidified his immortality with his 56 game hit streak in 1941. Players seem to be celebrating 2 game hit streaks these days.
  • Contrary to what some people may think, Eddie Gaedel and his one and a half inch strike zone was not the toughest player to strikeout. That honor belongs to Joe Sewell with 114 career strikeouts in 7132 at-bats. In 2009, a total of 51 players had 114 or more strikeouts. Mark Reynolds almost doubled that with 223 (a single season record itself) in 2009 and hes on pace for 228 K’s in 2010.
  • Recently (on July 30), the Rockies did the unthinkable against the Cubs by scoring 12 runs with two outs in one inning with 11 consecutive hits. But even more impressive for a single inning feat is Fernando Tatis’ 2 grand slams in a single inning in 1999. And both were against the same pitcher (Chan Ho Park). That will never be repeated… ever.

3. Unwritten Rules

Dallas Braden's New Fasion Line

You all know the rules of baseball or you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. But what some may not know is that there are several “rules” that are observed by players which are not included in the official rule book. These are the unwritten rules that most players respect. Some fall into the baseball basics, like left and right fielders conceed any ball the center fielder calls. Some are out of superstition and well known, such as “Don’t talk to the starting pitcher who is actively pursuing a no-hitter.” In fact, you aren’t even suppose to udder those words if you are a fan watching the game or the game may end like this or this.

But there are many more rules that are part of the ‘unwritten code’ among baseball players. One was brought up recently this year and sparked a lot of controversy (and a new t-shirt line). While Dallas Braden of the Oakland A’s was on the mound facing the New York Yankees, A-rod made an out at third base and proceeded back the first base dugout. The shortest route: across the pitcher’s mound. However, that is a big no-no. No player is ‘allowed’ (by the unwritten code) to set foot on the pitcher’s mound during the inning. And Braden made sure A-rod knew he broke the rule (Braden then proceeded to pitch the first perfect game of the 2010 season during his next start).

Most players/coaches say that new unwritten codes are written each day (some say they didn’t know about the one A-rod broke), but there are several that are well known by most all players. One is to never try to break-up a no-hitter by bunting for a base hit. This also happened recently as Evan Longoria tried to bunt for a single in the 5th inning while Dallas Braden still had an active perfect game going (this is the same perfect game mentioned earlier… this guy was the center of controversy earlier in 2010). And Longoria and his coach defended the choice. I do, however, have some issues on this ‘rule’. Does this mean the first few batters in the first two innings can not attempt to bunt for a single? Isn’t the leadoff batter suppose to have the team’s speed and his goal is to successfully make it to first base, so can he bunt in his first at-bat?

Other well known ‘codes’ are:

  • Don’t swing at the first pitch after a pitcher has given up back-to-back home runs
  • Don’t swing for the fences on a 3-0 count
  • Don’t taunt the pitcher that just gave up the home run you hit (Prince Fielder learned this one after the bowling pin incident)
  • Pitchers stay in the dugout at least until the end of the inning in which they were pulled
  • When hit by a pitch, don’t rub the mark
  • Relievers take it east when facing other relievers
  • Don’t walk between the pitcher and catcher (or Umpire) when walking into the batter’s box

The list continues. There is even a book published (just bought on the Kindle) on this topic as well as several other articles on what the most well known are (some strategic codes, others superstitious codes). Yahoo’s Sports Blog also has several good articles I recommend reading.

2. Waivers Isn’t a Fantasy Baseball Term

Fantasy sports has come a long way since their beginning (Check out the ESPN 30 for 30 film on the first Fantasy Baseball Rotisserie League) when scores had to be computed by hand and mailed out to all the participants. Now that Al Gore invented the internet, the fantasy business has boomed with a reported 15 million people playing fantasy football in 2003 and reportedly being an estimated $4 Billion industry. What ever sport or format you play (baseball rotisserie is my personal favorite), you would have heard of the waiver wire.

The most common form of the waiver wire is players dropped by one fantasy team can not be picked up immediately. The player must pass through a waiting period (typically 2 days) where any team (except the one that dropped the player) can put in a request for the player. After the waiting period, the team that has the highest waiver priority that put in a request for the player receives the player. The waiver priority is typically the reverse order of the draft order (last pick gets 1st waiver priority, etc) and a successful request moves your team back to the end of the line. But there is also another popular setup where the waiver order is the reverse order of the leagues standings. The great thing about fantasy waivers is that it wasn’t created by fantasy sports. Waivers is a real process and is accomplished in a very similar matter in Major League Baseball.

Baseball waivers is a complicated process that many fans just don’t understand. It’s a process that allows MLB teams to execute trades after the trade deadline. A process that allows teams to cut payrolls. A process to allow teams to block competitors from making that team more competitive. And surprisingly, most MLB players end up on waivers before the end of August.

So what is the general rules for waivers:

  • A Player put on waivers can be recalled from waivers only once in August (either no teams put a claim in on the player or a deal couldn’t be worked out with the winning waiver claim team). If he is put on a second time, he will not be coming back to that team again.
  • Any team (and multiple teams) can put in a request for a player on waivers. But similar to fantasy, the team with the worst record in the same league (AL or NL) gets to be the only team to make a deal for that player. If no team in the same league put in a request, the team with the worst record in the other league that made a waiver request for the player gets the only shot at acquiring that player.
  • If no team puts a claim in on the player on waivers, that player can be traded to any team
  • Any team can put in a claim for any reason. If the team wants to block an opponent from acquiring the player on waivers, they can put in a request. But beware, if the team placing the player on waivers is simply trying to dump the players contract to save some cash, the team with the successful waiver claim could get stuck with the player’s entire contract

For a more in depth waiver analysis, check out Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.

1. The Original Rules

Baseball is a simple game. You get 27 outs. Score the most runs in those 9 innings and you win. Don’t record three strikes against you, don’t hit a ball that can be caught before it hits the ground, and don’t let the ball beat you to first base otherwise you are one of these outs. Well, maybe there are a lot more rules than that (there are only 136 pages of official rules). But did you know that the original rules consisted of only 20 different rules. And some of them were strictly due to courtesy (Rule 1: Members must strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance).

The rules have evolved a lot over the course of baseball history. The original rules were that a game did not consist of 9 innings. Instead, the first team to score 21 runs (aces as they called them) won. Unless they had more “hands” (aka innings) than the other team, in that case, the other team got another chance to score more than the team who scored 21 runs first. Can you imagine how long a game could last? The Cardinals and Mets just played a 6 hour and 53 minute extra inning game in April 2010. The game was scoreless through 18 innings, tied at 1 after 19, and finally the Mets won in the 20th inning by a score of 2-1. Another interesting rule was pitcher’s could not “throw” the ball; they had to “pitch” it (their position was named pitcher for a reason). This means that prior to 1884 pitches were delivered to the batters underhand in a horseshoe type motion. That’s just wrong. Another rule was that foul balls were considered mulligans, not strikes. This allowed batters to foul off pitches just waiting for the perfect pitch. I wish adult softball leagues had this rule, but instead I get to hit 2 foul balls and have it be considered a strikeout.

Another original rule that allowed for loop holes in strategy was if the 3rd strike was dropped, the runner MUST run to first even if its occupied. This allowed a catcher to intentionally drop a 3rd strike, and if bases were loaded, pick it up, step on home, throw to third, and then throw to second for an easy triple play. The rule quickly changed to not allow a runner to advance to first on a dropped 3rd strike if first base was occupied.

Then there was the ability to steal back first base. Yes, ‘Back’ first base. Similar to the strategy today, if a team had runners on first and third, the player on first would steal second trying to draw a throw down to second so the runner on third could score. If the player did not draw a throw by stealing second, he could attempt to steal back first base to try and draw a throw to allow the runner on third to score. This is no longer legal after you have successfully advanced a base and the play is considered dead. Unlike the case of Lloyd Moseby who stole second base… twice… in one play (check out the video here).

Another loop hole in the rules was the ability for a batter to declare himself out on a ground ball to remove the force out with a runner on 1st. This effectively eliminated double plays. Just think, the Minnesota Twins would not be in the playoff hunt this season without their 109 twin killings (aka double plays).

Rules have changed since then trying to make the game fair for all. But there are some rule changes that never made it into the rule book. In 1893, there was a fear that the game was becoming too much a pitcher’s game (they were still 100 yrs away from the steroids era). So it was proposed to move the pitcher mound to 63ft 8 inches or 65ft 9 inches; and changing the count from 4 balls and 3 strikes to 4 balls and 4 strikes.

Here are the original twenty rules.

And those are what I believe to be five must knows for the want to be baseball fan. Hopefully, you read something new and interesting this post. If you didn’t learn anything new, then you truly are a baseball fan.

Pack Your Bags, It’s Moving Day: Week 12 Derby Review

If you still find your team near the bottom of the standings, you may want to look into hiring Bobby Henry, Seminole Medicine Man, like the Tampa Bay Rays did to turn their season around.

I know it seems like I’ve been absent this month, and I’ll agree with you. Sometimes due to my schedule (it’s bachelor party and wedding season ya know), and sometimes due to Mother Nature (it sounded like a bomb went off on my block but it was only my internet providers main junction box). No promises in an increase in posts to read, but I’ll at least try to keep up on weeks in review.

Moving On Up:

    If your team has over 20 homers in June, you probably noticed you are in the top-10 for the month and that you stand a great chance at taking home the third monthly crown. But another observation is that 8 of the top-10 teams in the month of June are also in the top-20 overall standings, which is pretty impressive that the leaders are maintaining such a high pace of home runs. Typically, someone near the middle or bottom of the pack makes a charge each month. But Kettle Poppers finds themselves in a similar situation in June as they found them in May (top-10 for the month) and April (top-5 for the month). This month, they are trying to stop taking home top-10’s and top-5’s and just take home the top spot. They own Abreu and Donaldson whom are the top sluggers in groups D and E (that’s how you win, not with your selections in groups A and B). Not to be outdone, Yeah, and he scrambled the son of a bitch also has 23 home runs this month and also owns Donaldson. But he also owns the recently awakened sleeping giant, Andrew McCutchen (who is not Scottish), and has hit 7 of his 11 total homers in this month alone. There are still 8 days left in the month, so there are still 10-15 teams that have a chance of overtaking the lead from these two teams.

    Claim Crushers

    Claim Crushers

    This last week there were 6 MLB players (that were selected in the HR derby) that hit 3 home runs: Ryan Howard, E-Squared, Adam Jones, Carlos Santana, Trout, and LUUUUUUUCROY. And if you own any one of them, odds are you made some movement to the top of this standings this past week. Only one team managed to jump 20+ spots and that was Claim Crushers jumping 28 places to 37th. Their team ditched the crippled Prince Fielder and added E-Squared on June 5th. This move gave him 3-homers this week and everyone but Freeman (who hit 1) pitched in another 2 homers from his team this past week for a total of 10 homers this week. That double digit HR mark was also the highest in week 12. Another pair of teams that made it into the top-20 this week were the father/son Bombers duo (Darrel’s Bombers and Bronx Bombers). They had 8 and 9 total homeruns in the past week which were 2nd and 3rd best.

Moving On Out:

    The bottom of the standings in the month of June don’t need to be called out (one of them is a previous HR derby winner). Thankfully, every team has at least hit more than 5 homeruns this month but not by much. Only one team managed to drop 20+ spots, Chicks Dig The Long Ball (-21 places to 67th), and they have been playing with 4 players for 20+ days thanks to Wil Myers. Their team did get one ball to leave the yard the last week but one other team couldn’t even accomplish that. Let’s Do Better This Year! owns the only goose egg in week 12 which dropped them to 84th place. They have had a lot of bad luck this season by owning JP Arencibia (who is now in the minors but did get married to a country superstar) and also owning injured Justin Smoak and Car-Go. So their team is really playing with only 3 healthy players at the moment.

Kicked To The Curb – Trades In June:

      Team – Arrango’s Draft Picks
      Owner – The Commish
      Player Dropped – Prince Fielder (June 5th)
      Player Picked Up – Chris Davis

      Team – Let’s Do Better This Year!
      Owner – K. Wilderman
      Player Dropped – JP Arencibia (June 5th)
      Player Picked Up – Carlos Gomez

      Team – Powerbombers
      Owner – K. Schultz
      Player Dropped – JP Arencibia (June 5th)
      Player Picked Up – Jose Abreu

      Team – Claim Crushers
      Owner – B. Mindock
      Player Dropped – Prince Fielder (June 9th)
      Player Picked Up – Edwin Encarnacion

      Team – What’s 5 Bucks?
      Owner – A. Staudinger
      Player Dropped – Prince Fielder (June 10th)
      Player Picked Up – Jose Bautista

      Team – Big City Walk Offs
      Owner – B. Elmquist
      Player Dropped – Wil Myers (June 20th)
      Player Picked Up – Jhonny Peralta

      Team – Because I Win!
      Owner – A. Hakes
      Player Dropped – Bryce Harper (June 21th)
      Player Picked Up – Brandon Moss

    Off-Season Outlook

    Well, it’s finally November. And there is no baseball to watch… wait, what is this?! The Arizona Fall League is being televised with expanded replay on the MLB network. Baseball isn’t dead yet.

    This also means that I may have baseball thoughts and comments that require me sharing with the entire world (because I know all of you care what I have to say). And I’m going to start with teams and players to pay attention to this off-season.

    • First, go over to MLB Trade Rumors and sign up for your favorite team’s message alerts. You can get tweets, text messages, rss feeds, apps, what ever you want. I use the text messaging service through twitter and it’s awesome. Every time some one breathes the name ‘Brewers’ in a player acquisition rumor, I know within 1 minute. Here’s a link on how to use the site to its max. And while you are on the MLB Trade Rumor site, make sure you sign up for the yearly free agent prediction contest. You only have to try and predict where the top 50 free agents go this off-season… super easy.
    • Now, where to start concentrating your off-season energy. I would recommend monitoring the actions of the St. Louis Cardinals. One thing everyone saw in 2013 was the depth of their pitching. Lance Lynn, Wacha, Shelby Miller, Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, and Joe Kelly are just the common names at the moment. They have a ton of options in pitching and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them shipped out for a SS or an outfielder. Kozma isn’t bad but he’s not great. And I don’t see them keeping Beltran roaming the OF. Craig needs to shift to RF. Matt Adams needs to play 1B. I see the Cardinals as one of the few teams with a lot of big trade chips already at the professional level caliber required to play today.
    • The next team I am going to be watching is the LA Dodgers. Why? Because they have the money. The Yankees are no longer the big spenders of the MLB. The Dodgers ownership are the ones emptying their pockets (banks will give loans to anyone these days). They have already signed a Cuban sensation at 2B this off-season, so they won’t be in on the Cano dealings. But their OF is very crowded and I see them adding some big names to their starting rotation (not that their rotation isn’t already filled with big names). One being the sensation from Japan, Masahiro Tanaka, who just pitched a regular season record at 24-0 and pitched a complete game at 160 pitches in the playoffs.
    • There are some big name free agents but there really is only 1 real big name that I think is going anywhere new… and his name isn’t Cano or Granderson. Where will Jacoby Ellsbury end up?! One idea is a team I already mentioned, the Cardinals. Sure, they already have Jon Jay, but it’s Jon Jay. I already talked about how the Cardinals have plenty of prospects but this is a guy they can sign without having to give any of them up. They can then save those trade chips for a SS. The other team that that I would guess could own Ellsbury in 2014 is the Seattle Mariners. I hope the Mariners land him because I would love to see the Mariners return to stardom and the playoffs and they have the pitching staff in place but need a spark on offense.
    • Another name I’m excited to watch is David Price. I know, I know, he isn’t a free agent, but he’s about to make a lot of money and TB doesn’t pay anybody because they are so good with the talent they find for cheap. Where will Price go? Definitely to the West Coast. More specifically, Los Angeles. I will put the Dodgers at the front but the Angels should be in the discussion on Price as well. I just think the Dodgers have the money and the prospects available. Could you imagine a Kershaw, Greinke, Price, Ryu, and Tanaka rotation? You may get to see it in reality in 2014.
    • Lastly, as much as I’m sick of it, the A-rod vs MLB case. Yes, I’m sick of this whole thing but this is actually getting entertaining. I mean, this hearing is turning into a good ol’ fashioned mud-slinging political he-said-she-said debate. Check out this link to the New York Times story that summarizes what’s happening in the case when it’s on hold until November 11th. This whole thing is currently a bash session with key terms of ‘MLB’, ‘A-Rod’, ‘leaks’, ‘spying’, and ‘Bosch’. I just can’t wait for the rulings because it’s going to destroy the loser. Whether its A-rod or the MLB organization, this is like watching a train wreck because we just can’t turn away.

    No News, Old News, And New News

    Wow… A MONTH! A month without any news from the greatest commissioner.

    I know you were worried based on all the concerned emails, comments, and tweets I received. No need to fret. Yours truly is A-OK. But now that football is returning and having already completed 2 fantasy drafts with 2 to go (yep, sold my soul to the football devil), I have reunited with my one-true-love… Baseball (after my wife of course).

    I didn’t ever turn my shoulder on baseball these year. I only gave the cold shoulder to blogging about it. So let’s recap what has been on my mind and not shared with you, the Sultans of Swat. The Free Swinger Groupies. The Juggernaut Jury. The Royal Family of Cork. The Blog’s Fans.

    Here comes a long winded rant:

      Umps are profiling all TB pitchers (AP)

    • Did a pitcher really get thrown out for too much pine tar? I can’t remember the last time pine tar was even relevant since the great pine tar incident of 1983 (That event was very interesting, I highly recommend all baseball fans read how it ends). What is funny with Peralta is that he got called out, was found guilty, booted from the game, and then Joe Maddon was allowed to investigate one opposing team’s pitcher. The National’s pitcher was clean and then Fernando Rodney came in to save the game for TB but made sure to walk to the mound with his hands up and glove between his legs… hilarious.
    • I’ve started my application process to trademark “This is a Clown Competition, Bro.” If Bryce wasn’t already in line to make millions, he will now be taking his smart ass mouth all the way to the bank. Really? A 19-year old phenom who hasn’t figured out how to keep his swagger alive since the All-Star break is going to trademark a phrase he gave to a Canadian reporter. I’ll keep you all posted on when the “This is a Clown Competition, Bro” shirts will hit the KoC merchandise store.
    • As if Jim Thome hasn’t made enough cash in his career, he got a $5K bonus check from teammate Papelbon for getting Papelbon off the hook for a blown save. I’m still waiting for my $5K check from my co-workers for getting them out of a tight deadline. You still think athletes aren’t overpaid?
    • Mike Trout deserves to win Rookie of the Year and MVP at the age of 21. He is a stud… enough said.
    • Umps do not have the easiest jobs in the world. On any close play, he upsets hundreds of people (players, coaches, fans) regardless of which way the call goes. But it seems umps are missing the easy calls this season. Really, Really, Really easy calls. First, the Helton play where Helton missed first base by more than 3 feet. Then, Carlos Santana (the catcher, not the singer) gets called safe when he was obviously walking into second base. But then came the worst when Dewayne Wise came from the stands with NO BALL IN HIS GLOVE. But some how he still got the catch, and more importantly, the third out. These all bring to mind the popular Little League chant “I’m Blind, I’m Deaf, I want to be a Ref”.
    • Seattle’s Safeco field is a great place to watch a baseball game. The stadium is new. The fans and people of Seattle are friendly. The garlic fries are AMAZING. I had the opportunity to enjoy this great stadium and great city this season (and almost had a chance for Big Papi’s 400th career HR which fell just short of my front row seats in RF). I highly, highly recommend a trip to the city of Seattle and if you happen to be in town while the Mariners, Seahawks, or Sounds are playing, I recommend catching a game in the city’s great sports complex. I had only two disappointments in Seattle: there fan support for the Mariners is lacking (especially on a night I saw King Felix pitch). And the stadium could have been built with an amazing view (the architects must have had a hangover when they put the walls up to hide the mountains).
    • Whatever happened to good cartoons? No wonder why most of our kids are brain washed. They don’t get to enjoy great cartoons like Tiny Toons, Garfield and Friends, Scooby Doo, Anamaniacs, Sonic, Transformers, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Felix the Cat, Inspector Gadget, and the list goes on. Are there even cartoons on after school or on Sunday morning anymore? Instead kids are stuck watching crap like Judge Judy, Rachel Ray, Jerry Springer, or Maury.
    • Did Atlanta really sign Ben Sheets the man with the glass arm? Sheets has only pitched over 160 innings in a single season 4 times in his 10 year career (being a Brewer fan, that seems like a lot) and is trying to come back from his second tommy john in 4 years. His last comeback failed in Oakland but Sheets looked amazing in his first 5 starts for Atlanta (giving up only 5 earned runs). Then, someone threw a rock at his glass arm and we now see the Sheets we all know… the one sitting on the DL.
    • I’m in the middle of a major home renovation project and I’m still looking for my retirement fund in the walls. Seriously, where do these people keep finding this hidden gems. $3 Million in pristine baseball cards… ok, they may have exaggerated a bit in the first story.
    • Do you know how bad ass Brian Wilson is? He is dating a Sasquatch.
    • Baseball is known as the child’s game that adults get paid to play. Well, some of the players are still kids at heart and that makes them some of the most loved in baseball. Adam LaRoche (star of Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander) is one of those players and his Ozzie Guillen/Bryce Harper combo prank was priceless this season. Nothing like making an unsuspecting Rookie look like he’s rubbing a seasoned manager’s face in Pine Tar.
    • What’s with teams giving the worst birthday gift to their players? “Can I see you in my office? Ya, we decided to go a different route. You are going to be cut. Oh, Happy Birthday.” This not only happened to the ex-pitcher, now power hitting OF, Rick Ankiel but also to Brewers’ flame-throwing Randy Wolf (flame-thrower might be a bit of a stretch… Wolf threw a curve ball 49 MPH).
    • Let’s talk about some rare home run feats because this is a home run blog after all. How often does a pitcher hit a home run? Maybe 10 a year. Maybe. How often do starting pitchers hit homers in the same game? Once every 10 years. How often do opposing starting pitchers hit homers in the same inning? Once every 20 years. That’s just what happened when Hamels and Cain both connected on pitches in the same inning. Kind of cool to help yourself out in the game. Not so cool when you give it right back to what is suppose to be the easiest out in the NL lineup. Even more rare… how bout brothers hitting not just their 99th but also their 100th career home runs on the same night. SAME NIGHT! That’s just what the Upton brothers did. But at least they hit home runs, unlike Carlos Gomez who trotted all the way around the bases only to find out he hit a long foul ball. Then, proceeded to strike out.
    • Still think Bonds didn’t have some help with steroids? Of course not. But do you want more proof that he should have an asterix next to those 762 home runs? I give you “The Clear” evidence to the right…
    • Social Media is getting a little too creepy. No one wants to know what your doctor said about your endoscopy. No one wants to know about your bowels. Social media was only created for stalkers (don’t deny it, we all are guilty of the stalking). This couple took social media creepy and odd to a whole new level. Kind of cool to see strangers come together for the love of a team. But a little creepy that it was documented on social media. I can’t decide which adjective should be used to describe the outing. What’s your thoughts?
    • Speaking of social media, what the heck is Shell thinking by letting the public make advertising for the company. Some of those are funny but just plain wrong (like, “Birds are like sponges… for oil”). Another random thought about social media, why does everyone want to hack into celebrities’ accounts and posting crap. At least this hacker had something funny to say (odds are he wasn’t a Yankees fan).
    • This season it seems something has crawled up every umpires’ you-know-what hole. Every little thing seems to trigger their ejection finger these days. But this umpire must have had something wedged up there extra far. Who ejects the sound guy? The home team should have been given an extra run for the sound guy’s creativity, but instead they lost their PA. Again, the saying goes “I’m BLIND, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref”.
    • The sound guys haven’t been the only ones getting creative. There have been a few fans that have taken creativity to a whole new level. Take this fan for example who rode into McCovey Cove to catch a few Giant home run swings. A Delorean is cool enough, but a Delorean Hovercraft is insanely awesome. Who knew it only took a flux capacitor to get on television these days. Or how about the Lucha Libre at the Orioles game. The fact that he was made even creepier by making it on TV over Getz left shoulder is awesome. And if you are one of those fans who wants to propose at a baseball game just make sure your bride to be isn’t away getting you a beer. There will be plenty of time for that after she says ‘yes’.
    • Hail to the King! King Felix pitched the 3rd perfect game of 2012 and the 23rd in MLB history and the 1st for the Mariners organization. What’s even more impressive is that that 1-0 win was King Felix’s 3rd 1-0 win in the month of August… three! It’s going to be hard to not vote for him as the Cy Young this season (unless Verlander continues to lead the Tigers to a pennant). But what’s even more impressive than Hernandez’s perfect game is that a 9-month-old boy has now witnessed TWO perfect games in his life. Most fans just hope to watch one on TV from first pitch to last let alone hoping to see one live. And it’s not like this kids parents have taken him to every Mariner game this season, he’s only been to TWO games ever. Yep, two games, both perfect. Better wrap that kid up and ship him of to Boston. The Red Sox are going to need all of this kid’s luck and more if they want to see a post-season in 2012.
    • Someone finally caught the ‘Milk Man’ cheating with their loved one… baseball. Melky Cabrera admitted to a positive Performance Enhancing Drug test which will result in him sitting out the final 50-regular season games for the Giants (guess that’s better than testing positive for Meth which doesn’t enhance your game like these 3 Rays minor leaguers). But he will get to play again in October (assuming the Giants can hang on to a playoff spot). What’s even more ridiculous than allowing Melky to help his team in the postseason? He can win the batting title WITHOUT having to bat in another regular season game. You thought Jose Reyes benching himself in the final game was a cheap way to win a title, how about admitting to cheating, serving a suspension, and still winning it. Let’s hope Andrew McCutchen can dethrone the Milk Man before October rolls around.
    • Speed Round: Literally, Speed. Billy Hamilton is a name you need to get to know. He has a legitimate shot at breaking Ricky Henderson’s MLB record of 130 in a season, if Hamilton ever reaches the big leagues. What has he already accomplished? He broke the minor league record of 145 set by Vince Coleman in 1983. He currently sits at 155 SB in 192 attempts… 192 attempts!!! Even more impressive is that he needed 3 to break the record and he stole 3 bases in the first 3 innings. This kid is quick. Hopefully his day comes in the majors because I can’t wait to see a 100 SB season.
    • What is Roger Clemens trying to prove? Either that or it’s a gimmick for the Sugar Land Skeeter’s to make some last minute bucks on the soon to be ending 2012 minor league season. He should probably stick to his over-50 softball league.
    • After getting sold, the LA Dodgers are All-In for the 2012 season. They were the most active team during the trade deadline. Picking up Victorino, Beckett, A-Gon, Punto, Carl Crawford and most of the remaining money on their contracts (great news for the Red Sox who may now be looking at a HUGE off-season acquisition). The Dodgers aren’t even leading the NL Worst West or own either of the NL Wild Cards. But with these acquisitions, the Dodgers should own the NL West title by October (I mean it’s inevitable when A-Gon homers in his first at-bat as a Dodger). The Dodgers will also own a for-sale sign in 2014 when all of these outrageous contracts start hitting their back end loading.
    • Don’t you wish that all of your employers and competitors honored you with gifts when you retired? That’s exactly what Chipper Jones is seeing as he makes his baseball farewell tour this season I would have to say that Yahoo’s #2 ranked gift is the coolest. You all know I’m not a Cubs fan, but anything that’s associated to Wrigley Field is an amazing peace of history and baseball memorabilia.

    Remember, football is beginning but that doesn’t mean baseball is over. There is still a solid month of regular season ball left (and Home Run Derby) and an entire month of playoffs (that my BrewCrew is trying to make a push for by going 11-3 over their past 14 games).

    Come Meet The 2011 King of Cork – What’s 5 Bucks!!

    First off, I hope everyone enjoyed the most amazing night of baseball in a long time. In case you missed it on Wednesday August 28, home field advantage for 4 different teams was within 1 game. The Brewers clinched home field advantage with a win (after the Dbacks had a ridiculous walk off grand slam on Tuesday night to keep the deficit to 1 game). The Tigers also clinched home field advantage with a victory themselves on Wednesday. Even more intense was the fact that both wildcard races were tied and came down to the results of 4 different games. Three of which went into extra innings and all three of those had blown saves. And the last hit of the regular season determined who we would be watching in the playoffs. The Red Sox and Braves collapses became complete. And the Rays erased a 7-0 deficit to the devil Yankees in the 8th to win on a walk-off home run.

    BUT… if you thought that those games were the only drama on Wednesday night, you may have forgotten how close our Home Run Derby contest was. Geez has been a staple at the top of the leader board since about June and he took home the title for the First Half with Prince Fielder trying to carry both his team and the Brewers to destiny. But along came the Rays What’s 5 bucks? who also packed the power of Fielder but had Braun, Reynolds, and Longoria to help share Fielder’s load. What’s 5 bucks? hit 82 home runs in the second half of the season (good enough for the second half title by 6 long balls). His team hit 32 homers in the last month (which was 5 more than anybody else and over 10 more than the league average in September) which helped him overcome a 10 home run deficit between him and first place.

    Going into this epic Wednesday night (everyone over uses the term ‘epic’ these days, but seriously, that’s how great Wednesday night’s baseball was) , What’s 5 bucks? was 1 home run back from Geez but was also losing in the tie-breaker. With the Yankees up 7-0 in the 8th over the Rays, no one could have predicted what would happen next. The Rays managed to score 6 runs where 3 came off of a Longoria home run (+1 for What’s 5 bucks? equals a tie for first but losing the tie-breaker). Dan Johnson then hit a pinch hit home run with 2 outs in the 9th to send the game into extras. Remaining scoreless until the bottom of the 12th inning when Longoria got to bat again. He roped a line drive down the left field line and cleared the half-wall (seriously, the wall is only half the height of the rest of the wall for only the first 5-6 feet in left field) for a walk off home run clinching the Rays playoff spot and the Home Run Derby Title for What’s 5 bucks?. Meanwhile just 3 minutes prior to this home run, the Red Sox blew a save and watched the Oriole’s walk off with their post season dreams. I’m sure Geez was the only one of us who could sympathize with how the Boston players felt that night.

    If that isn’t an exciting night of baseball, then you need to check your pulse. So there you have it… What’s 5 bucks? wins the 2011 Home Run Derby Title with 165 home runs. The ‘rumor’ is that last season’s Derby winner ($5 Donation) had to persuade What’s 5 bucks? to even play this year (hence, the team name). But this is all hear-say to The Commish. Not to be ashamed of his team, Geez put on a great performance all year but fell 1 out short on Wednesday night… twice. He will take home the First Half title, and the 2011 Derby’s first loser award. My team of Cream City’s Murderers’ Row just couldn’t put a last minute charge together but managed to hang onto third. Fourth place in the derby goes to Big Poppe’s Pill-Poppers. And fifth place in the 2011 Derby goes to ADRIAN GOES LONGoria (who also got into the Derby Hall of Fame on the last home run by Longoria to topple last year’s major collapse team of The Inglourious Batters).

    So that’s the Derby season. Everyone can now check out the standings and see where their picks went wrong and how had they gone with their gut and chose Pujols over Dunn, they would be reaping the rewards at this point. Instead, now we all get to enjoy some great playoff baseball (I’ve already got my Brewer tickets because who knows when they will ever be back). Thanks to all the new comers this season. Thanks to all of the returning teams for keeping the Derby alive. As long as all of you stay interested, there will be a 2012 Home Run Derby. Hopefully with more teams, better blogging (I slacked on that this season, I apologize), and more site extras (I’m still working on a mobile site and a Droid App).

    Please check back often as I do still post stories in the playoffs and in the off-season (usually at a slower rate, but probably at the same rate as the regular season this year). And GO BREW CREW!!!

    Don’t Touch The Big Red Button

    Could life get any better on this Sunday afternoon? It finally feels like summer in the northern Midwest (temps nearing 80F). Amazing storms are rolling through the plains (everyone keep safe). Tiger is crafting a masterful comeback on the last day of the Masters climbing the leader board with ease (Tiger showing the new young guns how to play golf). The Brew Crew are playing the Cubs and I get to listen to Uecker announce the game while the Masters are on in High Def. AND the AL East is collapsing (Are the Red Sox and Rays really 1 and 7).

    The only thing that could make this any better is having the Yankees and Rays switch records.

    Both the Rays and Red Sox opened the 2011 season 0-6, but both got off the schnide on Friday (I dare you to click that link). The Rays did it off the ChiSox by rallying from three down in the 9th inning to score five and win by two, while the Red Sox got their first victory from their AL East nemesis, the Yankees. Boston fans finally rejoiced and thought, just maybe, that the Red Sox were finally on their way to winning games.

    The best part about the Red Sox horrific start: no it’s not the fact that they spent $172MM (this doesn’t include the Adrian Gonzalez contract extension which could push $150MM), the best part is watching the entire Red Sox nation squirm in their seats that their team is starting the 2011 season this poor. I’ve already discussed the life of a fan of a sub-0.500 sports team and listening to the panic of fans from one of the big three teams gives me warm fuzzy feelings.

    The worst part about the Red Sox start: having to put up with all of the major sports media covering ‘the end of the world‘. Seriously, ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, and SI need to stop being so east coast biased (click that link, it’s ESPN even calling themselves out or this one where they are called out by others). The NL Central (Cubs get it all) and the AL/NL West (Giants get it all) want some love too. Just to put all the talk to rest, there has only been two teams in MLB history have started 0-6 and made the playoffs (the ’74 Pirates and the ’95 Reds), so history says there is still a chance for the Red Sox. Plus the season is 162 games for a reason and we are through only seven. When the season hits the end of May, then everyone can start making a big deal about poor starts. No valid conclusions can be drawn from a sample size of 7 out of 162 (this also applies to Pick Me Out A Winner, Bobby and Warning Track Power in the Home Run Derby). So I beg of you major sports media… please stop covering the coasties’ sports teams and start spreading the coverage with the Royals blistering start with one of the youngest aged teams in the Majors (I try my best on covering all divisions of the MLB but may be bias towards the Brewers and NL Central, so if you see an interesting bit of MLB news, don’t hesitate to drop me an email about it). Tune in for the Red Sox 1-8 start tonight on ESPN’s SUnday Night baseball against the Yankees.

    On other side notes, Casey McGehee (the golden boy of a lot of the Wisconsin based HR Derby teams) has come off the bench and the schnide by hitting a game winning 8th inning two-run home run of the Cubs’ Kerry Wood to lead take the first Brewers/Cubs series of the season!!! Thome also came off the HR schnide for all you Twins fans but not enough to beat the Billy Beane’s A’s.

    Manny Finished Being Manny

    Manny Ramirez… when you hear that name do you think of a great baseball player or an on field entertainer?

    The answer… it should be both.

    Manny’s Hall-of-Fame career came to an abrupt end when the MLB requested Manny stop being Manny informed Manny he failed an illegal substance test and would face a 100-game minimum suspension. After an $18 million pay cut this off season, Manny has decided to call it quits rather than waiting until 2011 to continue his Hall-of-Fame statistics.

    Manny finished in the top-15 for total Career Home Runs in the MLB and has the fourth highest Career Batting Average among the 500-HR club (only behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and Jamie Foxx… all elite players). Not to mention Manny is a 12-time All-Star and appeared in every All-Star game from 1998-2008.

    Manny may be remembered as being part of the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series Champions where they game back from a 3-game deficit to the New York Yankees in the ALCS and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Or for leading the Dodgers back to the playoffs in 2008. BUT, what Manny may be remembered most for is “Manny being Manny” (ESPN reports 63% of poll voters agree).

    I can remember watching a game where the Dodgers were down by four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and Manny blasted a solo home run to right center and stared it down like he just hit a walk-off. Or how about the time he decided to take a break in the Green Monster to chat on his cell-phone. Or the time he took a bathroom break in the middle of an inning and almost missed the start of the next inning. Or him taking a break in the off-season to play some Cricket. Or when he cut-off Johnny Damon’s throw in center field. But my favorite has to be his high five double play off the wall catch (see the video below).

    Whatever you may remember Manny for, he was an elite player and deserves a place in the Hall-of-Fame. Rumors are that the now retired Manny plans to party with Ricky Williams, Michael Phelps, and Tim Lincecum followed by a late night trip through Taco Bell’s drive through… mmmm chili cheese burritos.

    What’s The Logic Behind Rooting For Your Favorite Baseball Team?

    Something to read while waiting for the spring to actually arrive during Spring Training.

    Just a quick post about an item sent to me on what I thought was good enough to share with the rest of the team.

    Click on the photo for a larger image.
    Baseball Flow Chart

    I take no credit for this. All of it goes to the InterpretationByDesign.com guys… and The Master Batters for emailing it to me.

    Brewers 2009 Roster Signs Million Dollar Minor League Deal

    Something to read before watching the Green And Yellow blow out the Black And Yellow in Superbowl XLV.

    With MLB baseball less than 2 months away, every team is still acquireing players as stop gaps for all their injury prone batters and glass arm pitchers… aka Rickie Weeks. And it looks like teams are turning to the entire 2009 Brewers roster for this help. Or so it feels like.

    Just reported today via MLBTradeRumors, three of the Brewers 2009 starting rotaion was picked up for $1 million dollar minor league deals along with the Brewers 2009 utility infielder. The three starters managed to combine for a 5.53 ERA in 2009, so they probably don’t deserve much more than these deals (if any deal at all).

    Reports:

    Jeff Suppan – If you are an avid reader of KingsofCork posts, you know my dislike towards this man. I might as well be called “The Soup Nazi“… and was happy to chear “No Soup For You” when the Brewers finally released him. So I am more than happy to announce that there may be more Jeff Suppan Hate Posts here on Kings Of Cork for the 2011 MLB season. Reports say Suppan signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants for $1 Million this season. If Suppan ever gets called up, it most likely means that the Giants will not be repeating as National Champions. I do hope Soup gets called up for a game against the Brewers just so the team can get a little payback for the money they lost investing into him.

    Dave Bush – “Fear the Beer with the Beard”. Dave Bush had one mean beard when he was on the mound but that was the only thing mean with this pitcher. No mean fastball, no mean changeup, no mean curve, he was just hittable and hoped his defense was strong enough behind him to stop the bleeding. However, this is a pitcher who recieved 8 Rookie Of The Year votes in 2004 with Toronto. He just never lived up to that hype again. Instead, Bush is now going to be pitching for the minor league Ranger affiliates for $1 million. The Rangers do have the Brewers ex-pitching coach, Mike Maddux, so he knows what he’s getting into.

    Braden Looper – Another ex-cardinal that is almost over-the-hill that the Brewers overpaid for. He has been out of work for over a year, but that didn’t stop the Cubs from giving him a $1 million contract. Anything to make the Cubs worse, I’m ok with. Although, it’s a bit safer than the Oakland A’s Ben Sheets contract last season.

    Felipe Lopez – An everyday utility man who can play 8 positions… he only hasn’t played catcher. Also a member of the 2009 Brewers that didn’t pan out, the Rays have taken some of there off-season savings and spent a million on a minor league deal for Lopez. Out of the four, this is the one player I would want.

    Hey, if teams are just giving away a million dollars these days, I will gladly accept a deal to catch and throw a ball around for a minor league team. Because let’s face it, none of these guys will or should be in the bigs this season.